So ends the #Dismissal1975 project
On the morning of 11 November 2015, at Old Parliament House, we were ready. A steady drizzle fell outside, and through the front doors the vista across the lake showed a growing crowd and a sea of umbrellas at the front of the Australian War Memorial. It was Remembrance Day, but it was also the day that, 40 years ago, Australia faced one of its greatest political crises: the dismissal of the Whitlam government by Governor-General Sir John Kerr.
Since 13 October the museum has been running its Twitter project, #Dismissal1975, to commemorate the Whitlam sacking. With 2015 marking such an important anniversary for the momentous day, a Twitter campaign seemed like a good way to reach a new, younger audience via a medium with which they are now very familiar. Day by day we tweeted the events leading up to the Dismissal in the words of those who were there. Accompanying the words were links to photos, historic documents, excerpts of Hansard, and historic film.
The project struck a chord: #Dismissal1975 became the hashtag for any and all comments Dismissal-related. The young and the not-so-young joined in – children signed up their parents to Twitter for the duration, their parents maintained their rage online. Many people revealed their collections of memorabilia from the time – it would seem there are still a lot of ‘It’s Time’ t-shirts out there! Those joining in came from all walks of life – academics, journalists past and present, school teachers, students and politicians. The anticipation was building steadily, then on 11 November—the day it all happened—we watched the sea of tweets flow in as the dramatic events unfolded again.
The project was beautifully complemented by a new, long essay by writer Paul Daley, who had his own personal connection to the Dismissal, and wrote about that through The Guardian Australia.
A timeline of the tweets and Paul’s essay will live on in the museum’s Dismissal website, a future resource for students and others. We really enjoyed bringing this story to life and we send a heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part and followed the journey, it was great!
Two of my favourite tweets were:
@MoAD_Canberra Loving the Dismissal re-creation through Twitter.— Doreen Blyth (@doreen_blyth) October 13, 2015